March 2, 1945

Friday

In England, Verne writes in his diary . . . .

03-02-45

On pass this morning and up to London. Stepped out with two soldiers and a sailor. Went to Covent Gardens and the Paramount dance hall.1 Got pretty liquored up and had a very nice time. Spent the night at Knightsbridge Red Cross. Wasn’t very anxious to run around since I am pretty darn tired from the last five missions.

The Covent Garden Opera House, which had been converted to a night club, and the Paramount Dance Hall were popular night spots. Photographs (including infrared photographs) taken by David E. Scherman for LIFE magazine show a vibrant London nightlife in spite of the blackout.1

Notes & Commentary

1 “The Passion of Former Days: Connecting to the people of the past through pictures” (http://www.formerdays.com/2011/07/nightlife-in-london-blackout.html : accessed 23 January 2014) and (http://www.formerdays.com/2011/05/blackout-london-1944.html : accessed 23 January 2014).

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3 Responses to March 2, 1945

  1. suchled says:

    Thanks for the two ‘blackout’ links. Very interesting.

    Like

  2. SJS says:

    What a great entry! It reveals the level of stress and exhaustion these airmen had to deal with. The opportunities to unwind were most welcome, I’m sure.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      I have tried to comprehend, for years, the stress that must have been induced by the loss of aircraft and small boat crews during World War II. These units operated from fixed bases. The crews arose, were briefed and went out on missions as a squadron or smaller group. Often they went alone. Sometimes, they didn’t return and no one knew what happened to them. The environments in which they operated often guaranteed that losses would be catastrophic with aircraft or vessel along with their crews gone.

      Just the whole bunch would be gone. The six, seven, or eight guys you had breakfast with gone. No plane on the hardstand; no boat at the dock. Bunks empty; seats in the mess hall vacant. Entire crews suddenly gone. It could happen to you and your crew. Depression and sense of helplessness must have been ever present.

      This level of depression, etc. must have been first experienced among the aircrews and small boat crews during World War I. Air group of aircraft takeoff for the front and some simply disappear. A small patrol boat moves out into the night of the English Channel and disappears. In my mind, these sorts of losses have to be different than those suffered by, for example, infantry units where people know what happened or that of large ships. I could go on about this, but there is no need. I would close, though, with the observation that post-traumatic stress syndrome, though it might not have been known as such, was a day-to-day constant.

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